Digital Main Street Launches its Future Proof Program
Building on the successful launch of the ShopHERE powered by Google program, Digital Main Street, in partnership with FedDev Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Invest Ottawa, Communitech and NORCAT is proud to announce its Future Proof Program.
COVID-19 forced businesses across Ontario to close their doors this spring and many are looking for new and creative ways to attract business. With Future Proof, Digital Main Street aims to expand their support and create lasting change for small businesses across Ontario through three initiatives called Transformation Teams, the Digital Main Street Lab and the Community Collaboration Project.
Individual business evolution: Transformation Teams will offer transformation plans to small businesses through working with an interdisciplinary team of marketing professionals, web designers and creators. These Transformation plans will help to create new businesses models, develop and implement digital marketing strategies; maximize digital tools and more.
In a process lasting up to six weeks, each business will work with a team of highly trained students and recent graduates that will include a web designer, digital marketer, graphic designer, UX/UI designer and copywriter. This team will offer tailor made plans for deep digital transformation and give each business owner the tools to maintain their upgraded online presence. The Transformation Teams program will provide free and direct support to businesses, while providing on the job training to the teams of students and recent graduates. Applications are now open.
Street by street renewal: The Digital Main Street Lab is focused on building collaborations between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change along main street for businesses. Projects that offer new ways for customers to access main street businesses are of interest. Successful projects will be eligible to receive up to $25,000 in support for implementation. Applications for the Digital Main Street Lab will be live until October 31, 2020.
Regional focus: The Community Collaboration Project will connect regional innovation centres and other community-based organizations to identify common issues facing small and medium main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions to these issues for implementation.
In order to ensure that all Ontario communities have equal access to support, the Community Collaboration Project will be implemented by Regional Innovation Centres across the province. Haltech, iiON, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory, Innovation Guelph, Launch Lab, MaRs, NWOIC, RIC Centre, Spark Centre, SSMIC, TechAlliance, ventureLAB, and WEtech in addition to NORCAT, Communitech and Invest Ottawa are all proud partners in the execution Digital Main Street Future Proof programs.
Future Proof compliments two recently announced programs ShopHERE and Ontario Grants:
- ShopHERE: a program that provides independent small businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to get selling online right away. More infohere.
- Ontario Grants: providing main street businesses with $2,500 Digital Transformation Grants, and municipalities / local communities with grants to implement a Digital Service Squad. More info here.
“Ontario’s small businesses are at the heart of our economy and will play a key role in its recovery. That is why we have invested in Digital Main Street. To help entrepreneurs take advantage of the increase in online commerce by supporting them to execute digital transformations, and ultimately succeed at doing business in a digital world. The Future Proof Program will help protect Ontario’s main streets, support local jobs and help our economy come back stronger than ever.” — The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
“Helping Main Street get back on its feet starts with supporting local small businesses to grow and adapt to today’s world. The Future Proof program will provide the support small businesses need to transform their operations to meet the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow.” — The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.
“Providing businesses with the tools they need to adapt, recover and grow is a key part of our economic recovery plan throughout reopening and into the future. The Future Proof program offered through Digital Main Street is just one example of how Ontario’s recovery will be driven by innovation.” — The Honourable Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
“COVID-19 has pushed many small businesses to the brink. They need new ways to engage with their customer base. The goal of our Future Proof program is to enhance the options available to Ontario small businesses and enable them to adapt in new ways to help them flourish.” — John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas
“Main street businesses are the heart of Waterloo Region and communities across Southwestern Ontario. We're honoured to be able to support them through Digital Main Street's Future Proof programming. These innovative services will support the digital transformation of these vital businesses and help build prosperity in our communities.” – Iain Klugman, CEO and president, Communitech.
“We're excited to help architect and deliver the new DMS Future Proof program in Ottawa and Southeastern Ontario. Combining the expertise of our Entrepreneurship Team and local tech talent, we look forward to helping main street companies address current challenges and pursue new opportunities during and beyond the pandemic. We have already launched peer roundtables, online training sessions and interactive webinars for restaurants, retailers, service providers and trades – some of our hardest-hit main street sectors. Together, we will help business owners assess the future of their sector, pivot where needed, and leverage different digital tools and business models to capitalize on new markets.”
-Nick Quain, Vice President of Venture Development, Invest Ottawa
About Digital Main Street
Digital Main Street is a program and service that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and the Digital Service Squad, a team of highly trained recent graduates who help main street businesses grow and manage their business through the adoption of digital tools and technology.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. Digital Main Street is also supported by a group of strategic corporate sponsors, including Google, MasterCard, Rogers, Microsoft, and Shopify.
About the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) is a non-profit umbrella organization working with the 83 Business Improvement Areas within the City of Toronto, who in turn represent more than 40,000 business and property owners.
Headquartered in Waterloo Region, Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs who came together to help one another build successful companies to help ensure the future prosperity of Canada. They created an organization to support the entire “Community of Tech” with a mission to help companies start, grow, and succeed.
About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s capital, facilitating economic growth, and job creation in the city of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative and future ready city, and the best place to learn, work, live and play, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development and global expansion program and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs.
NORCAT was founded in 1995 by a team of business and academic visionaries who recognized the need for an organization to promote, educate, and support local entrepreneurs, tech innovators, and skilled labour workers to enable long-term and sustainable economic and social prosperity for Northern Ontario. NORCAT has proudly evolved to be a multi-national, global company offering programs, services, and resources to their clients.